Africa in 1999 witnessed no massive terrorist attacks as devastating as the
bombings one year earlier of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, although
evidence continued to emerge of terrorist activity and networks--both indigenous
and foreign--on the continent. Terrorist organizations such as al-Qaida, the
Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Gama'at al-Islamiyya, and Hizballah posed a threat
to US targets and interests throughout Africa and elsewhere. In the region's
most deadly attack, Rwandan Hutu rebels murdered two US citizens and a number
of tourists in March.
Insecurity continued to plague Angola in 1999. Angola's main guerrilla faction,
the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), committed several
acts of international terrorism as a tactic in its decades-old insurrection.
In January, UNITA guerrillas ambushed a vehicle, killing one British national,
one Brazilian, and two Angolan security guards. On 10 February, UNITA rebels
reportedly kidnapped two Portuguese and two Spanish nationals. The next day,
UNITA rebels attacked the scout vehicle for a convoy of diamond mine vehicles,
killing three Angolan security guards and wounding five others. Five Angolan
citizens were killed on 14 April when unidentified assailants attacked a Save
the Children vehicle in Salina. UNITA's bloodiest terrorist assault was the
ambush of a German humanitarian convoy near Bocoio on 6 July. Guerrilla forces
killed at least 15 persons and injured 25 others.
In addition to assaults on isolated vehicle convoys, UNITA attacked three civilian
aircraft in 1999. On 13 May, UNITA rebels claimed they had shot down a privately
owned plane and abducted three Russian crewmembers. UNITA again claimed responsibility
for shooting down a private aircraft on 30 June. One of the five Russian crewmembers
died when the aircraft crash landed near Capenda-Camulemba. Three weeks later,
UNITA rebels fired mortars at an International Committee for the Red Cross aircraft
parked at Huambo airport but caused no injuries or damage.
Total Casualties Caused by International Attacks, 1999
Total International Attacks, 1999
Cabinda Liberation Front separatists are believed responsible for the kidnapping
in mid-March of one Angolan, two French, and two Portuguese oil workers in the
northern enclave of Cabinda. In past years the separatists have taken hostages
to earn ransom and to pressure the Angolan Government to relinquish control
over the region.
Ogaden National Liberation Front rebels on 3 April kidnapped a French aid
worker, two Ethiopian staff workers, and four Somalis. The next day, the group's
"political secretary" announced the French hostage had been "pardoned"
and was to be released to French diplomats.
Two major kidnapping incidents occurred in Liberia in 1999. On 21 April
unidentified assailants crossed the border from Guinea and laid siege to the
town of Voinjama, kidnapping the visiting Dutch Ambassador, a Norwegian diplomat,
a European Union representative, and 17 aid workers. The attackers, whom eyewitnesses
said belonged to the United Liberation Movement for Democracy in Liberia, released
all hostages later the same day. In August an armed gang kidnapped four British
nationals, one Norwegian citizen, and one Italian national. The gang released
them unharmed two days later.
Ethnic violence flared in Nigeria during the year as bloody feuds broke
out among various indigenous groups battling for access to and control of limited
local resources. Poverty-stricken Nigerians across the nation, particularly
in the oil-producing southern regions, demanded a larger share of the nation's
oil wealth. Radical ethnic Ijaw youth resorted to violence against oil firms
as a means of expressing their grievances. The gangs abducted more than three
dozen foreign oil workers, including 16 British nationals and four US citizens.
The militant youths demanded ransoms from the victims' employers as well as
compensation from the government on behalf of their village, ethnic group, or
larger community. In most cases the youths held the hostages for only a few
days before releasing them unharmed.
Security problems in Sierra Leone spiked during the first half of 1999 as
insurgent forces mounted a last-gasp offensive on the capital in January. Revolutionary
United Front (RUF) rebels took captive several foreign missionaries during the
RUF's siege of Freetown. The failure of this offensive and a general sense of
battle fatigue led guerrilla forces to sign a peace and cease-fire agreement
in July, and Sierra Leone remained relatively calm for the remainder of the
year. Violent flareups occurred sporadically, however, as the government tried
to regain control of the countryside.
The most significant of the post-cease-fire incidents was the kidnapping of
more than three dozen foreign nationals at a rebel demobilization and prisoner
exchange ceremony. On 4 August members of an Armed Forces Revolutionary Council
(AFRC) faction kidnapped 10 United Nations military observers, 14 regional peacekeepers,
and eight civilians. Among the hostages were 14 Nigerian soldiers, seven British
nationals, three Zambians, and two US citizens. The AFRC militants demanded
the release of their leader, Johnny Paul Koromah, and humanitarian aid. After
Koromah assured them that he was not imprisoned in the capital, the AFRC militants
released most of hostages the next day and the rest on 10 August.
Islamist militants associated with Qibla and People Against Gangsterism
and Drugs (PAGAD) continued to conduct bombings and other acts of domestic terror
in Cape Town. Only two of the attacks affected foreign interests, when unidentified
youths on 8 and 10 January firebombed Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in
Cape Town, causing major damage but no injuries.
On 14 February a pipe bomb exploded inside a crowded bar, killing five persons
and injuring 35 others. One Ethiopian and four Ugandans died in the blast. Among
the injured were two Swiss nationals, one Pakistani, one US citizen, and 27
Ugandans. Ugandan authorities blamed the bombing and a number of other terrorist
incidents in the capital on Islamist militants associated with the Allied Democratic
Forces based along the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Rwandan Hutu rebels attacked three tourist camps in the Bwindi National Forest
on 1 March, kidnapping 14 tourists, including three US citizens, six British
nationals, three New Zealanders, one Australian, and one Canadian. The rebels
killed two US citizens, four British nationals, and two New Zealanders before
releasing the others the next day. One month later, on 3 April, suspected Rwandan
Hutu rebels based in the Democratic Republic of Congo again crossed over into
Uganda and attacked a village in Kisoro, killing three persons.
At least 16 bombs exploded across Lusaka on 28 February. One bomb exploded
inside the Angolan Embassy, killing one person and causing major damage. Other
bombs detonated near major water pipes, around powerlines, and in parks and
residential districts, injuring two persons. There were no claims of responsibility.
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